Marine Returns From Japan to Surprise Teacher Mom During Class: 'My Knees Buckled'

A Marine surprised his mom at the Florida school where she teaches.

A Marine who had been stationed in Japan for more than two years made his mom weak in the knees when he surprised her Thursday at the Florida school where she teaches.  

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“My sister started planning it about a month ago. She said my mom had seen all these military surprise reunions, and she said, ‘Why can’t I have one of those?’ Marine Sgt. Paul Riggs told

So his sister called him and said, “We’re going to make it happen. Just bring one of your uniforms, and I’ll take care of the rest,’” said Sgt. Riggs.

About a week ago, his sister called Schrader Elementary School in New Port Richey and plotted with the school’s principal about how they were going to pull this off.

Sgt. Riggs, 24, a self-proclaimed "computer nerd" who works with the Marine Corps’ Aviation Logistics Information Management and Support, showed up at the school around 12:30 p.m., and headed toward his mom’s classroom.

“I was kind of nervous. It didn’t feel like it was real. I was still trying to understand that I was home and was about to see my mom,” he said.

Paula Riggs, a third grade teacher, was telling her students about Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral, an Irish lullaby she used to sing to her children when they were little.

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“We had a little routine, we’d read a story, and then sing Twinkle Twinkle, and Too-Ra-Loo-Ra, say our prayers, and go to bed. He’s been my hero since he was a little boy,” his mom told  

In the middle of her telling the story to her students, her son walked through the door, taking his mom by surprise.

“Wait wait, look at you!” she said to her son through tears. “My hero.” The two shared an emotional embrace.

“I lost it! My knees buckled. He helped me so I didn’t fall. I was so emotional I couldn’t stop crying,” she told IE. “I’m crossing this off my bucket list.”

Sgt. Riggs is home until next Friday, when he ships off to the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, where he’ll be a Marine Corps officer. 

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